How to Recycle More

Do you want to know how to recycle more of what you use and throw away? To celebrate Global Recycling Day, we’ve created a sustainable guide containing tips to help you recycle more of the correct materials.

First, let’s start with some recycling facts to put the problem into context.

Recycling facts

  • The UK recycles only 45% of plastics. The rest ends up in landfills or oceans, where they pollute the environment and cause damage to wildlife.
  • The 8 million tonnes of plastic that enters the oceans every year is equivalent to dumping 1 billion elephants into our marine habitats.
  • Plastic takes hundreds of years to break up but never completely goes away.
  • All the plastic that we throw away could circle the world 5 times.
  • Glass is 100% recyclable over and over again, but the UK only recycles 50% of it.
  • Glass doesn’t decompose in landfill, so it puts a massive strain on the environment and contributes to carbon emissions.
  • We could compost at least 50% of our food waste but don’t.
  • Food in landfill releases dangerous greenhouses gases. However, we could use food to make animal feed or convert it into gas to produce electricity.

Reduce, reuse, recycle

A circular economy is about eliminating waste and reusing our finite resources again. Recycling plays a vital part in the circular economy as it focuses on turning unwanted rubbish into new valuable materials. The main benefit is that it reduces damage to our planet caused by pollution and climate change.

However, recycling shouldn’t be considered a first resort. If you can’t reduce, reuse, repair, or repurpose what you have, recycling may be the next best thing.

Woman recycling Blue recycling bin Recycling bins

Our sustainable guide below provides some valuable tips to help you recycle more of the correct materials.

Home recycling

You can recycle these materials in your recycling bin at home:

  • Paper and card
    • Break them down by flattening boxes and remove any bubble wrap or packaging materials
  • Glass
    • Rinse out bottles and jars
  • Recyclable plastics (rigid)
    • Empty and rinse plastic bottles to avoid contaminating other products at the recycling facility
    • Make sure they don’t contain any harmful chemicals such as anti-freeze
    • Remove the pumps before disposing
    • Keep lids on if you’re crushing bottles down
  • Metal containers such as tin, aluminium and steel
    • Don’t crush cans as they are harder to recycle at facilities
    • Empty aerosol cans first and remove any removable parts
    • Rinse foil trays and scrunch foil up to make a ball (the bigger, the better)
    • If the foil doesn’t stay scrunched up, it’s not recyclable
    • Glass bottle screw tops
  • Food
    • Compost in your home composter or use a sink incinerator if you have one
    • Don’t pour cooking oil down the sink as it’s one of the most common causes of water pollution

At selected supermarkets

  • Flexible plastic bags (carrier, bread, cereal bags that are not inside boxes)
  • Wrappers for cans and bottles, ring joiners, food pouches
  • Crisp packets, fruit and veg bags

Local council and recycling points (such as in-store)

  • Electronics (consider selling or donating first)
  • Check with your local council to find out if they will collect batteries
  • Clothing (consider selling or donating first)
  • Plastics that aren’t home recyclable such as bubble wrap
  • You can also use bottle banks to recycled glass

Recycling schemes

  • Terracycle is a recycling scheme that can earn you reward points redeemable for charitable gifts, products or donations. These are some of the products you can recycle:
    • Coffee capsules, pens, contact lenses, food tubes such as Pringles
  • Return schemes at some of the following stores also offer rewards for recycling:
  • Return unopened, unused and expired medicines to pharmacies
    • Don’t put inhalers in the bin as they contain harmful gases
    • Tablet blister packs are not recyclable

Recycling facility Big recycling bin and man Recycling categories

Finally, if you want to find out more about where you can recycle products, packaging, and materials, check out the Recycle Now website.

If you found this sustainable guide helpful, you may also want to read our blog post about the difference between biodegradable and compostable.


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